By Ye Zheng, Zhao Baoxian
Like a palace-fight TV series, in three months, Ukraine’s situation has changed from people being unsatisfied with their economic status to people opposing the Yanukovych government. The situation has further escalated into a violent confrontation and political upheaval. The dust has not yet settled, but it is clear that, behind the scenes, the Internet was a driving force.
Looking back, one can see that the foreign forces outside Ukraine have used a number of technical means, including theft, interception, and attacks, to use the Internet to control public opinion, to create and spread political rumors, and to incite people’s discontent. In the end, they were able to subvert Yanukovych’s administration. Ukraine’s “one-sided” Internet opinion has alerted people again: We must view the issue of Internet security as the strategic height of national security.
Just as Dickens said in the book A Tales of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” the Internet era is also a double-edged sword. One can find the shadow of the Internet in almost every major event: sometimes it gives out positive energy and sometimes it helps a villain to do evil. President Xi has pointed out that without Internet security there is no national security. His statement has revealed the profound importance of Internet security.
The Internet security threat is a non-traditional security threat, but also a realistic threat. Unlike the traditional strategy in which the enemy releases his fighting dogs outside our house, in the Internet space, the enemy releases his dogs in our courtyard. Not only does he light fires; he also keeps pouring oil on the flames. Though it is this important, some people still ignore Internet security. That’s because they have ignored Internet sovereignty.
National sovereignty means a nation has the right to handle its internal and external affairs independently. It is sacred and inviolable. One should notice that the definition of sovereignty is not always the same. It keeps expanding as human beings keep extending their living space, from the land to the ocean and to the sky. Along with the creation of Internet space comes the issue of Internet sovereignty. “China’s Internet Status” whitepaper pointed out: the Internet is a key infrastructure for China; the Internet inside the People’s Republic of China is under China’s sovereignty; China’s sovereignty over its Internet should be respected and maintained.
Maintaining a nation’s sovereignty is a new issue and also a big challenge. The Internet connects the information nodes tens of thousands of miles away from each other. Via the Internet one can quietly enter a country’s heart. With the move of a finger, information can travel around the world twice in 0.3 seconds. Thus it can attack the opponent’s vital points without any blood. This attack is more hidden, which makes it hard to locate the origin of the attack, not to mention to trace the attacker.
Because Internet sovereignty is hard to defend, we must defend it fiercely. If a nation does not have a defense, it will certainly lose its sovereignty. Internet infrastructure buildup is the physical part of a nation’s Internet sovereignty; we don’t allow other countries to attack it. A nation’s specific Internet domains are the virtual part of a nation’s Internet sovereignty; we don’t allow other countries to block them, manipulate them, or conduct any illegal activities against them. The financial, telecom, transportation, energy, and other key Internet systems related to people’s daily lives are a core part of a nation’s Internet sovereignty; we don’t allow it to be harmed. The public opinion on Internet space is a key part of a nation’s Internet sovereignty; we don’t allow any foreign force to control it.
We should resolutely resist and fight back against any actions that violate our nation’s Internet sovereignty. We have always held the banner of peacefully utilizing Internet space while opposing Internet crime, Internet terrorism, and Internet hegemony; and established an image of a responsible “major Internet power.” However, there are still people holding an “Internet appeasement ideology.” Not only do they keep silent in the battle of Internet space and treat it as a “forbidden topic”; they also stay away or even resist the right measures to maintain Internet order. History tells us repeatedly that when we face aggressive offenders, being quiet will not stop them. If we just put down our swords and pick up plows to farm our land, the enemy will take it as an opportunity to invade us. Though Internet space is a virtual environment, making concessions or compromises and giving up our defense there will bring us blood and tears in return. Our people’s interests will eventually be lost.
We need to safeguard our Internet border and maintain our nation’s security. It is urgent for us to build “our new Great Wall” [around the Internet].
Since it is possible that the hostile forces can “break the web” or “penetrate the wall” around our Internet defense, we should fully integrate the Internet information and technical resources from the central government, the military, and the local governments. We need to establish an Internet defense supervision system that combines both the military and civilians together so we can build an information Great Wall to protect our Internet territory.
On the technology side, we should further strengthen the research and innovation of our own intellectual properties, master the core technology, and establish an integrated security system that includes inspecting for invasions, scanning for and removal of viruses, encryption of communication channels and messages, and network separation. We should have the ability to be proactive in detecting danger, and thus safeguard the safety of our information infrastructure.
Moreover, we need to further advance the control and management of public opinion on the Internet, mercilessly reveal any “Internet traitors,” and cut off its hand if the overseas dark force tries to take over our nation’s Internet discourse power. Only by doing these things, can we make a declaration to the world with our actions: We do not allow anyone to violate our national sovereignty; we do not allow anyone to violate our Internet sovereignty.
 PLA Daily, “Come, Let’s Build Our New Great Wall,” March 28, 2014.